In 2004, Rachel Sussman, a Brooklyn-based photographer who is a mere 37 years old, visited a Japanese cedar rumored to be 7,000 years old. Imbued with a sense of the fragility and persistence of life, she began a mission of researching and photographing individual organisms that were at least 2,000 years old—“a way of putting human timekeeping in perspective,” she says.
Sussman has now photographed more than 30 ancient organisms as part of her Oldest Living Things in the Worldproject; she will publish a book of her work in the spring of 2014. She traveled to Western Australia to photograph these stromatolites, layered structures built by microorganisms in shallow water, which are roughly 2,000-3,000 years old.
Have you ever wondered how a simple shot can keep you from dying a horrible death? In this one-minute video, Ask Smithsonian’s host, Eric Schulze, unravels how vaccines boot-camp our bodies into shape, getting us ready to fight off deadly diseases
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